Dear trauma helpers,
now we are going to do our most distant global mission so far. On Wednesday, 9th August, 2017, our flight starts from Frankfurt to Hyderabad (India). Within the following three weeks, we will be at three different locations, where we train qualified, Indian persons who will work then with traumatised, Indian children, young people and women like we manage it in the city of Regensburg.
On board of the mission are:
Thomas Loew (teacher), Beate Leinberger (teacher), Elias Borg (cameraman), Ulrike Paeper (organizer), and Tobias Paeper (organizer and interpreter)
The invitation regarding the training of the employees at the Child Guidance Center was set up in 2016 as a result of the committed initiative Ulrike Paeper‘s.
You get more information about the Child Guidance Center in Tobias Paeper's blog.
The Child Guidance Center (CGC) is a recognized institution for people with disabilities in India. The CGC was founded in 1973 as a school for people with disabilities by a clinical psychologist. In the year 1999, Dr. P. Frank Viswanath took over that school. Since 2001 the CGC is accompanied and supported from the Mosbacher association „Partnership in one world“ (registered association).The Child Guidance Center is a carrier of two schools for people with disabilities, a training facility, a rehabilitation center for women and several smaller projects. An overview of all the projects can be found under: projects of the Child Guidance Center.
The employees of the Child Guidance Center are working under the motto: „Reaching the Unrivalled“.
Those who want to be extensively informed about the work in India, are welcomed to attend Tobias Paeper’s blog: https://tobiasinindien.wordpress.com/das-child-guidance-centre/
Without having any sleep we have started our trip from Regensburg. At the moment we are sitting with our German hosts at the airport of Frankfurt and are waiting for boarding at 15.00 pm. The first barrier: the correct handling of a electronical visa is do. The second barrier: our enormous amount of luggage…it was regarded humorously because besides our obligatory sandboxes and material for playing in these sandboxes we carried also a trendy Christmas tree of plastic and „tons of“ German gummy bears with us. Meanwhile Ulrike is serving us with fresh cropped vegetables of her garden and stories about the „Happy Home“ in Hyderabad. We are very, very curious about what will expect us. Stay tuned!
This morning about 8.00 am we have arrived well in Hyderabad (India). After a longer stay again at the visa desk we were greeted very heartily by our Indian hosts Sunny and Rajani and were finally driven in their institution CGC. The first Indian rule that was to learn, is to honk. You honk permanently here and for all kinds of reasons. Using the horn means: „Attention, get out of the way!“
„Hello, here I am!“
"I‘m behind you, in front of you, next to you!"
"I’m driving too!"
"If you don’t honk, I will honk!"
On the back side of trucks you are even requested friendly in letters to use the horn. The traffic is unmanageable chaotic, however it is managed masterly by the Indians. Pedestrians are seen generally as „sensation seekers", car drivers are seen potentially as „suicide helpers". Those who doesn’t suffer from attention deficit syndrome previously, suffer from it undoubtful after three hours of Indian city traffic.
Our arrival at the CGC was very touching. Created by colourful crayons and flowers the children have illustrated a „welcome screen“ on the ground and held up „welcome shields“. We got a lovely performance by singing and dancing and were decorated in connection with floral wreathes and a rain of blossoms.
Namaste! A greeting, which is often used in German esoteric circles, still represents references to the caste system here in India. „Namaste" means as much as „I know less than you, I respect your wisdom“. Stirred and overwhelmed we greeted back „Namaste“.
Here at the CGC about 120 mentally and physically disabled children visit a school. They are trained in the basic skills of life, in order to have a better chance later. The disabled children living at home with their parents and are daily shuttled by CGC busses. In addition to these children there are approximately 60 children and young people who live also in the CGC building – children who have lived before on the streets of Hyderabad. Here they found now a home („Happy Home“) and are attending nearby state schools.
„Happy Home“ also runs training centers, in which these children are able to build up later their professionally main pillar. Just as for reflection: the school fees for a street child, who get a chance in life in this manner, costs 100 euros per year. The required money will be procured by donations.
In the next few days we are going to instruct the staff of „Happy Home“ with our trauma methods, so that the children and young people are able to overcome their difficult life experiences better and more effective.
Today it was the first day of our course „trauma helpers". We were together with people, who were very interested in that issue. The participating people were on the one hand - as already mentioned – specialists, on the other hand also some parents of those disabled children, who attend the school here.These parents picked up directly on the spot our techniques of self-regulation and stabilisation because - as we have heard - also a part of the disabled children is traumatized in addition.
Indian people learn very concentrated, takes notes continuously and don‘t challenge nothing (without explicit request to do) initially. We were allowed to make the experience that also
„metal- yoga-technology“ is confirmed smilingly, in order to understand later, that this expression is not a expression at all…;). Moderate breathing is part of everyday life here and the mention of „Pranayama“ is sufficient to bring all listeners to the authentic knowing nod, whereupon nodding is not meaning „yes“. „Yes“ in the meaning of a confirmatory sign represents a fast, loose wiggling with the head back and forth.
Here our brain knotes then because to notice spontaneously this „Yes“ as „Yes" and not as a „No“ requires our whole concentration. The wobble possess the excellent advantage that Indians have no neck-disorders because they practice functional relaxation in this way daily. So: Pranayama plus Indian „Yes“ means relaxation in a few minutes.
The highlight was the combined belted out „ARAMSAMSAM“ with all course participants who understood the text and the movement and implemented them immediately.
At the end of the day we had thrilled and motivated a group of Indians visibly. Tomorrow, the course then continues.
In the evening we dared out in the outdoor area of the city center of Hyderabad. This was an adventure on ist own,to be on the move by walking (without sidewalks ) in the middle of the chaotic traffic, we already described yesterday. For pedestrians the horn from behind,from in front, from the right side or from the left side always mean: FREEZE - NO MOTION - OTHERWISE YOU WILL BE PASSED OVER. This strategy is ESSENTIAL FOR SURVIVAL. I will send impressions of our tour as photos – pictures are telling more than words...
Yesterday we offered the second day of our first trauma helpers training here in India. The interest in techniques to overcome with traumatic experiences is enormous here. Almost all of the participants have lived through very difficult life events. Among other things we had the parents of the „special children" - children with disabilities - , with us again, who could now reported on their concerns and misery as a „special“ family.
All in all these families differ hardly from German families with disabled children because also in Germany people with disabilities are still confronted with a lot of exclusion and rejection and therefore have to fight for recognition, training and support. The reports of some mothers about the cohesion within the family and the high level of the fathers‘ commitment were very touching. Of course the economic factor plays a much higher role here in contrast to Germany. Never before in our lifes we have experienced poverty and wealth so close together
Our unit „functional relaxation“was accepted very well in which our yoga-trained participants easily performed of course. We were excited to see the individual level of stress before and after. Therefore we refer to the app „stress check“, which is available for smartphones (if smartphones are exist at all). This app was then used immediately by participants. And those who didn’t possess a smart phone were invited by the smart phone owners to take part.
As we are very interested in how yoga experienced people can benefit additonal by our interventions (in Germany we often listen to the sentence: „I’m already doing yoga, I don‘t need new relaxation techniques"), we have started with a small study, in which the participants were randomised to receive their level of stresses before and after functional relaxation“, SURE and moderate breathing in the next few days measured by app and should report the results back to us via whatsapp.
A part of the group consisted of female Indian psychology students who became acquainted with our diagnostic instruments we used in our work with and for refugees and now will compile these instruments into Indian (Telugu).
All in all we had a successful first course in which we trained not only parents and trauma helpers but also professionals who are going to launch the first trauma group here in the Child Guidance Center
In the evening we have gone for a walk through the nearby residential area.
The impressions of the day will follow in pictures:
Today we have witnessed a very nicely designed divine service for the „Happy home children“ by Ulrike Paeper.
First we formed a circle in the courtyard, in ordert to celebrate the sun dance together, shortly before the monsoon had burst out over us.
The monsoon is the epitome of: „It’s raining buckets“. During and after the dance we stayed dry however;).
The basic theme of the divine service was to see life as a gift of God (and I would also say as a challenge) despite all the difficulties of life , to recognise and respect each other with all the individual fates and to share everything.
Some children have been called by name personally and you realized the special esteem and the feeling of adoption on the refulgence of these children.
Following different goodies such as bananas, chapati, cucumbers, carrots, gummy bears and chocolate were distributed symbolically.
The children have sung their songs very fervently – we have sang along the refrain in telugu as far as it was possible.
During the performance the professor campaigned for a choir director and we have tried to teach the children the canon „Heaven opens above all“. The children were eagerly involved, so that the canon in two voices echoed through the courtyard.
At the end of the divine service we have shown all children then „ARAMSAMSAM“ – they participated and sang along enthusiastic and demanded for extras. The children love rhythmic songs with movements that they can belt out so that our self-stabilizing song becomes a fast-selling here.
Today the children sing and drum throughout the day. They have no school today. The children make their day in the „Happy Home“ mostly independently. There is no organized care team. Rajani, our female interpreter, lives here and bears the responsibility. She is a social worker and a psychologist trained by the Child Guidance Center. Additional adult auxiliaries are former „Happy home children", who are still living here and take care for the smaller children. They are cooking, washing, cleaning and arrange for a regulated day. Besides the older children automatically take care for the younger ones.
A middle-aged woman who lives here told us that she preferres much more to stay here because she lives very well here and if she moved out, she would have to marry that would bring her a uncertain future with a foreign man and that she doesn’t want. So „Happy Home“ becomes also a shelter for women in general.
In the meantime we have experienced further fates of children who are living here. We will write more about that issue in a subsequent contribution.
Yesterday it was holiday in India and we also had a day off. As once again a powerful monsoon rain soaked us in the afternoon, a trip together with the children to the Lumbiti Park had to be canceled.
Instead of the LumbitiPark we drove then to the Birla Temple in little company, in order to visit it. On the one hand we were surprised by the very pious and holy attitude of the Indians regarding their Hindi deities and the pollution of the temple area by picnic trash and waste of bottles at once . Everything is always just ambilateral…
Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos or recording a video in the Birla Temple, so that we can set only photos of the external view of the temple. From the highest point of the temple area, there is a fantastic view of this huge city of Hyderabad, that is twice as large as Berlin. You can’t see an in any direction even there would be no smog.
Following our visit we dared to cross a street by foot daring and proofed ourselves as real „sensation seekers". What a thrill you get if you reach the other side of the road safely with all the noise, bustle and all kinds of horns!
As India on the whole was busy yesterday, we could also see many begging people. In addition to the very, very poor people who are living in awfully looking slums in the middle of the city, there are also very professional and highly organised gangs of begging.
A circa seven-year-old girl joined us finally and showed us constantly with gestures how hungry she is. Soon her very young mother joined us too, in her arms the circa two year-old brother of the young woman. All three of them didn’t leave us anymore.
In the striking distance we could discover the man who „controlled“ the three. It was extremely hard for us nothing to give to the children, but with money gifts you prevent that these children are sent to school.
If they went to school, they would not longer be able go begging and were no longer part of the livelihood of the family. An endless negative circuit that maintains the poverty.
One goal of the Child Guidance Center is to move the Indian children to attend school and to train them, in order to learn proper professions and therefore to get out of the circuit of poverty.
Today it is Indian Independence Day. Since early in the morning, the children were very busy, in order to prepare the celebration. After having breakfast we all came together in the courtyard and with a lot of singing, music, dance and fuss the national flag was hoisted. Then the disabled children showed us by a small play the history of the independence and held proudyl up the tablets with portraits of all involved politicians.
Among these politicians is also Mahatma Ghandi, who is not seen only positive here in India because he carried on disregarding the people outside the caste system, the Dalits, in spite of despite of his great engagement within the caste system.
Still yet the Dalits are in a very difficult and serious situation for example as students at the universities, although the Indian government forbids the unequal treatment by law
Inded there are still several traditions that are prohibited, judicial punished, but still are executed.
For example there are living three siblings in the „Happy Home“ whose father burned the mother and thus killed her because he accused her of adultery (an evidence for his accusation is unnecessary).
At the time of offence the children were two, three and six years old and have watched the crime. The father is jailed for approximately ten years, meanwhile his children are waiting in the „Happy Home“ for his relase, in order then to go home back again.
Also one of the other girls,Bhavani, had to watch how her parents soused each other with kerosene and light themselves mutually under strong influence of alcohol.
Today it was a special day of travelling. At 10.00 pm we started with two cars to Guntur. Guntur, a megacity, is located in the southeast of Hyderabad.
The aim of our trip is a further institution of our hosts in which 65 disabled children are taught. This institution includes further a further facility in which 150 traumatised women, girls and boys found a home.
Either they were forced to prostitute themselves or lived - as in Hyderabad - on the street. They are also being taught and get the opportunity to start a training or even start studies at a university.
In the evening we arrived well. During our car drive back we experienced some impressive and also some shocking stops. If we thought we had seen real poverty in Hyderabad, we were taught better on our way to Guntur.
Our first stop was a school for disabled children. We were welcomed traditionally with floral wreaths and singing. Proudly they showed us the class rooms with the pupils who liked it to be photographed. We got a very well impression of this Child Guidance Project too.
Afterwards we visited a lime works in which families are living and working. Here we were confronted with a vengeance of poverty and suffering.
The purpose of this project is to teach the children of working parents . That is not so
easy because from the youngest age on the children collaborate and therefore contribute to the day’s wage. A day’s wage for a man is about two euros, for a woman one euro and fifty cents for a child. The local community Community and Rural Development Society (CARDS) offers school for 70 children. The children receive sufficient and healthy food twice per day. The parents are willing to send their children to school if CARDS pays out the daily loss of earnings of the child to the family . Among the 70 children there are also 20 provided disabled children who were injured by accidents in the lime works. In addition to physical handicaps the children have also mental disabilities by head injuries. Some children visit CARDS only in the morning to get something to eat before they go to work with their parents.
The families are living under extreme poor conditions. The dwellings are five square meters at the best, bricked flat roof buildings for five persons at least, in the worse case only material tents. Everything is dirty and recollects you more of a mixture of sewerage and waste dump.
In the lime works an older boy told us proudly that he is attending school and is learning. He spoke English well and seemed to be fit. We could only encourage him and support him in his plans.
The even more cruel side of life in the work limes is the high consumption of alcohol of the parents. This means that the children are often on their own and sometimes work more than their parents. It is an incredibly dull existence of this people and it touched us deeply. You can imagine that this suffering is only bearable, if you believe doubtless in karma and reincarnation.
We have now arrived in Guntur in the evening, a very nicely designed school complex of the Child Guidance Center in which we will train about 50 new trauma helpers tomorrow. These are university lecturers, teachers, physiotherapists, psychologists and social workers.
We are looking forward very much to the next day!
Our second course is packed like the first one. Among 57 participants there are only ten who speakes English.Radjani, our psychologist, did a magnificent job, like US-president Trump would say and translated almost six hours sequentially. We are allowed – as already mentioned above – to pick up four different occupational groups this time: college students who we have to put across that they have to respect the symptoms and the resulting restrictions in their particular professional environment.
Therefore we offer a little less neuroscience and more concrete psychopathology and above all more practical instruction as we have learned from the last course:
This time we take it very exactly with the monitoring using the visual analogue scale (VAS) which for example allow an assessment of individual load by recalling of critical life situations which students should check firstly by themselves.
Then there is also the training of SURE (Somatic Universal Regulatory Exercise) which all participants shall exercise now for at least three minutes. Tomorrow we will see how the intervention takes effect compared to those that still have to be know – and thus the young people get also an introduction to the clinical science.
The „stress check app“ which we also use gladly for it we can‘t use it so systematically this time because only a maximum of one-fifth possess a smartphone. Flat rates (1 GB daily, domestic phone and sms unlimited) cost about five euros per month, an mobile phone that is capable of using the internet is available for 15 euros.
Just for recollection: a worker of a lime works earns circa 60 euros per month, a teacher who works for the CGC earns approximately 120 euros per month.
But let’s go back to our course: now we are working even more according to the motto: „learning on the job". Therefore tomorrow the first unit at the sandboxes will take place with eight traumatised girls between five and twelve years, who were picked up formerly of the streets respectiveyl were liberated from brothels and now have found a new home and future. The trauma assistants who were trained today and who are their carers at once, will them further accompany.
Also regarding the learning target control we become more strict: at the end of the training day we want to know how much of our teachings were really understood and therefore there will be oral exams in three small groups: one in English, one in Telugu and one which is interpreted: and indeed our participants answers deliberately and dedicated: they know why certain functional neurotransmitter systems are important for the handling of traumas which interventions can be assigned to these systems, how we use mirror neurones, how and why bilateral stimulation works and why playing in the sand enables a reprocessing. WOW.
After that we rewarded ourselves with a trip to Guntur, a city of about one million inhabitants, that is located about 60 kilometers away from the Indian Ocean and namely away from that coast, which was hit by the tsunami in 2004. With its buildings and the way to create shops the city appeares a little like an Italian seaside resort of retort. After spending about an hour in a traffic jam into the city and one hour back we are now safely back to our second Indian home - this time without air conditioning and only with a very limited internet access.
Guntur – the second day: it was important for us that SPRINTS (Sandplay Reprocessing Integrating Nonverbal Trauma Techniques and Self Stabilization), our sandplay, is actually implemented, that’s why we started concretely today with ten girls of the „Girls-Project“ who are accompanied with nine female trauma helpers and one male trauma helper who will continue to work then also with the girls between six and eleven years. Step by step - at „ARAMSAMSAM“ with the support of the 40 other participants - we managed the whole agenda - first round of the sandplay that was started well and spontaneously, the interstabilization by the painting of the „big lying 8“ where we firstly had to make the children clear partly that it is not necessary here to save paper or to write very nicely now. The second round of the sandplay included the final „ARAMSAMSAM“ and a detailed feedback round of the trauma helpers who accompanied the process.
The trauma helpers understood very soon what’s important by doing that game and described very exactly what they have observed on the childrens‘ behaviour - the sequence of the individual game, the hesitation, the challenge to be present and to accompany patiently whatever the child plays.
After the game the obligatory tea pause took place before a very critical discussion started. Some of the participants presented pages of questions of a high scientific level, for example questions regarding the concrete neurological aspects of the learning process by motor-learning of the „horizontal lying 8“ and questions regarding the empirical justification of our acting and the situation of our approach in general.
After circa 30 minutes we postponed then the discussion to the lunch break. Then we presented the concept of lifeline: the date of the bad and the good experiences and the assessment of the burden by the individual events with the help of the outlined trauma-landscape which have its seeds in the EMDR.
Finally the principle of slow-paced breathing was presented and demonstrated practically (with the folding paper documentation).
After lunch break we divided the participants in two groups each with 27 participants: three or four participants at any one time regarded their lifelines, placed their highlights and burdens, rated the events, selected their best event of life, painted it as a „snapshot“ and experienced the „anchorage and deepening“ of this image as inner safe place by using slower bilateral stimulation.
After getting the critical feedback at the end of the morning we were now confronted increasingly with pleasantly surprised faces because now the participants could feel actually that something has changed.
Despite of the difficult circumstances, as for several hours the facility was without electricity and running water,it really irritated none. It’s good that we have many battery packs and thus the cameras could continue at least and our demand to film all courses of the seminar by two perspectives at least could be fullfilled anyhow.
In the final meeting which contained a summary of the relaxation techniques and the integration of the relaxation interventions we were then already „Indian synchronized“ so far that we could bridge the content by pantomime instead of powerpoint and „carriers of symbols“ from the garden.-
The highlight in the final assembly was the integration of movement and breathing by functional relaxation, imbedded in a „before and after documentation“ using visual analog scale of course – as used also in the case of the other interventions, so that we can soon report about a little controlled and efficient study: -How is it possible for people who have intensive experiences with yoga - and all people here in India have these experiences – to relax with our functional relaxation?
By the way our participants were completely convinced of the concept of the little movements after seeing the youtube clip called „The Hold“ produced by a Californian paediatrist – however we don’t want to reveal more for the moment.
The farewell photo and „ARAMSAMSAM goes India“you will discover soon on youtube. Tomorrow our journey leads us in the jungle to the world’s end (we are likely the only Europeans in an area of 50,000 square kilometers here) being encountered there intensive monsoon - if the plague of mosquitos that are also the transformers of the dengue fever is not too huge.
In the evening we mutual quoted poems in Telugu and German and created our own „Bollywood productions“ within a small round of people because there are no television and no internet access available.
We can recommend cordialy Indian music videos since yesterday (the link regarding the Indian music videos we are still finding out)!
On the day after our second successful trauma helpers course we ventured a study trip to three projects of the Child Guidance Center and CARDS.
First we visited the „Girls Project“ in which approximately 60 traumatised girls between four and sixteen years old are living now. Often girls are aborted or suspended in India because they are less „valuable" for families, they cost about three to four annual salaries of the father in the case of marrying and can’t supply the parents with money in old age - in contrast to the sons.
For the first time we observed a traumatised group here in India who showed us within our our half-hour stay several trauma symptoms.
Nevertheless the children danced and sang for us and let told their carers their stories. On day a girl arrived at the „Girls Project“ after she was suspended by her mother at the train station in the age of three years.
Two other girls (siblings) were also supended at the train station and dicscoverd there in a trash can. Another girl is here at the „Girls Project“ because her mother suffers seriously from tuberculosis is and there is no other relationship and one of the girls is – like also her mother - infected with HIV. All children are receiving here an orderly home and positive attention by loving and caring persons in charge and teachers. From now on these people - as they have been trained by us – can also exercise the trauma therapeutic techniques, in order to reduce the negative and wearing symptoms.
From the age of 16 years the girls visit the college in general after attending the 10th grade in which they live. We were allowed to vist this college and could see how diligent and keen Indians students are preparing themselves for their future professions like teachers, nurses, bank employees, engineers, pharmacists or laboratory assistants. The students finish their college studies with the bachelor that enables them to continue with master degree – the same way like in Germany. It’s impressive under what kind of simple conditions you are able to learn (close buildings, stuffy and hot air, metal seating and hardly any books). Almost none of the students has a book, but there is the college library where books can be borrowed. These must be read in the library that‘s why many students transcribe the texts of the books by hand.
In the evening we visited a former slum district in which the project has been launching a „Bala Bata“ (= after school supervision).
In an area of six square meters approximately 40 children are provided here on a daily basis. They have breakfast in the morning, then they are sent to school and after school they use the after scholl supervision until about 19.00 pm. The carers emphasize that they do their school homework, offer extra tuition, organize common singing, playing, praying and watch orderly food. At the beginning it was necessary to convince the parents, but now they are glad to bring their children to that facility.
Previously the children were often beaten and excluded in their former schools due to the lack of homework, so that the parents wanted no longer to send their children to school. Now this problem is solved and the children can go to school again without having fear. During our visit in „Bala Bata“ we were pretty gazed as white people, some children even got frightened and regarded us with big eyes. We all got together just in the small room of six square meters – inside there were now 50 people - and the little ones started to sing, quoted poems and counted within the decade and hundred system inTelugu, in order to demonstrate us their skills. At the end we also sang together here with much laughing and fun with all the children and the persons in charge „Aramsamsam“, in order to say goodbye by disturbing gummy bears for all (this goodie is rather unknown here in India and was suspiciously eyed…;).
It was a day full of events that brought us to think and touched us until in the middle of the night. Still to mention is the recognition of the different mentalities between Germans and Indians:
In general a German always has a reason to complain whether he is supplied well, healthy, living comfortable or even luxurious.
An Indians‘ view in general always turns in good spirits or „happiness“ (like Indians use to say) no matter how huge the suffering and misery are. -
Yesterday we started a further study trip to the former destroyed tsunami area in the south of Guntur. We drove circa 65 kilometers on pretty adventurously roads and were able to watch insight the rural area again. In addition to cashew and mango plantations in this region there are also especially rice cultivation, which is in its planting phase during the monsoon.
First we visited „Mosbach shelter“ that is circa five kilometers away from the beach and was built directly after the tsunami in 2004. It’a building with a staircase, a kind of roof terrace, that should protect the people living next in case of a big flood. The tsunami in 2004 reached several kilometers inland.
The „Mosbach shelter“is used for such emergencies five to six times annually because there are natural disasters less dramatic as the tsunami in 2004 but still pretty threatening such as cyclones, particularly for the poor who are still living mainly in very simple cabins only covered with palm leaves .
In addition the inner space is used for monthly meetings of the female population or as a shelter for single families because of different reasons.
When we drove to the „Mosbach shelter", our bus driver got stuck properly the bus in the sand, so that we another little adventure besides.
With all of our force and Elia’s cleverly applied physics by using shimmed subordinate stones and old doors we could make our very stressed driver laugh, could liberate our bus and could continuing our trip after having lunch (yellow rice with egg).
At she sea we finally took a rest and enjoyed then the very warm water of the pacific and its waves of about two meters apperalled completeyl (this is an Indian bathing rule).
We were all now in a very good mood again and so we drove further to the next „Bala Bata“, where the children already welcomed us joyfully in front of the building with flowers and songs. For six months the children of the parents who are working in the sales boothes at the beach are looked after in this „Bala Bata“.
The beach area here is collapsed as a place for tourists since the tsunami of 2004 and for 13 years the people here are trying to create attractiveness for the tourists.
Nevertheless we could see some Indians who stayed here as tourists and a small holiday resort. Foreign tourists are not there yet, so that the people here are very poor overall.
According to our Indian friends after the tsunami in 2004 daily 2000 people were provided here or brought daily to the funeral for several weeks. The Indian staff who witnessed the natural disaster at that time are still mostly stressed by the horrible impressions, as well as those people who only just survived.
Today we visited the trauma center. 45 girls and young women are living here who are taught and can doing a training right after the 10th grade. They become for example a dressmaker that is good for earning enough money or become a beautician that is also a job to get a relativeyl high salary for a woman.
The college provides then further options which we visited a few days ago and described.
The girls had a lot of questions regarding our school system, the supply of old people and the dealing with marriage and divorce. They were very interested in the opportunities to live well and independent without a man by education, training and the force of the own income because it is still very difficult for women to live such a life here in India.
A nineteen-year-old girl confessed that she is forced by her parents to finish the training in the trauma center, in order to get married. She doesn’t want that but the trauma center or the project leaders of the CGC or CARDS doesn’t have any power of influence. The problem is that a girl who is highly educated cause more„costs“respectively the dowry gets higher for her parents. That means: the more she is educated the more she „costs“. Therefore parents of girls have no interest in a higher education regarding their female children.
Sometimes a woman has the opportunity to continue her training or education after the marriage but only if the husband agree. We also got to know such a woman who is teaching at the trauma center and thus becomes a good example for the other girls.
With mixed feelings we drove back again however we could discussed structurally and initiated the establishment of the trauma therapy for all the girls who are living there because they all have terrible experiences with losses, violence, combustion et cetera. Therefore there will be offered a trauma therapy lesson with „lifeline“ and EMDR according to our model, as the carers (psychologists and social workers) have attended our course and are able then to implement the things what they have learned here with the support of a rotated educational film.
After having had a puncture on our ride home last night- the right front tire of the bus burst at full speed and accompanied by the noise of car horns of other cars, lorries and TukTuks we lurched and hoppled tot he side-strip, where we changed the tire with pretty unusable tools (YES – there was a spare tire in the car!!!)- we fell completely exhausted in our beds after midnight. Currently we are confrontated with temperatures of about 45 degrees among the shades that cool only moderate during the night. The high humidity of nearly 100 per cent paralyzes gradually the animal spirits during the day – and you don’t need to make an effort to fall asleep in spite of the strenuous climatic conditions. That is pure adventure!
In the morning we started delighted then immediatelly with our next trauma helpers course. Today we have broken the record with 83 participants!!! There were teachers,carers, social workers and female college students who learned very disciplined and with eager for knowledge in a room of approximately 60 square meters under difficult circumstances like a temperature of 45 degrees outside and only a moderate air conditioned interior.
They understand the basics of neurophysiology very fast and added cleverly and creatively their own Indian techniques of bilateral stimulation. Once again the fast effect of the sandplay therapy impressed because also in this course we made a point of self-experience despite the high number of participants. The „bad experiences“ that were mentioned mostly were car accidents among others, but that don’t surprise if you take a look at the crazy traffic here in India. We have experienced – like at home - the very fast emotional involvement of the „sandplayers“ and could convince by using the stabilisation techniques SURE, the moderate breathing and the bilateral stimulation - based on their own personal experience.
Today we tested the mediation of the neurophysiological processes via theater for the first time. The participants formed themselves as a „brain“ in the courtyard and reenacted the processes in amygdala, insula and hypothalamus.
They all had a lot of fun and in the subsequent examination the answers of many respondents could be played back properly, although they were confrontated with these words for the first time.
In the evening there still will take place a ward round at diseased Indian patients. And tomorrow we will start in the second day of our third trauma helpers course.
Until the beginning of the second day of our third trauma helpers course we had translated - partly during night - the last questionnaire into Telugu, a teaching and learning song for self-stabilizing sealed and translated and staged it as a musical comedy.
We started the current course – like the last time too - with a complete sandplay therapy session with the girls of the „Child Project“who therefore had already their second sandplay lesson. In the final round the selected trauma helpers reported differentiated about their observations and also the audience (more than participants) was involved very disciplined.
Further we worked out „slow-paced breathing“ in the morning and we conveyed the diagnostic significance of heart rate variability and the influence on it by breathing as well as the individual steps of the lifeline to the participants by having more than 40 degrees and a unbelievable sultriness. At noon we discovered our article in the Bavarian newspaper „Mittelbayerische Zeitung“. After that it proceeded with exercises to lifeline, trauma landscape, inner safe location and EMDR and subsequent it got scientific especially today: we presented our test results of the first sandplay therapy group with infant refugees of Regensburg and presented a brief introduction to the research: the participants got to know what a prospective, randomized and controlled study is and what can can be measured now with the translated questionnaires.
After that it got eventfull again and a small group showed her self-produced premier of „trauma self-help songs“ in Telugu which has been obtained intense applause – the English text is called: „Though afraid here I stay, swinging move my fear away (explanation by SURE). Breathe in while count four, count six while breath out, I'll be calm in minutes though they me shout loud (explanation of „slow-paced breathing“= moderate breathing). Cross clap my arm, look left and right, won't freeze, I'm clear, can concentrate (= bilateral stimulation). Finally the second part of the „brain play“ was trained and presented in the courtyard that should help to underline and internalize the
(neuro-)physiological processes once again.
After the course a visitation with circa 40 girls from the „Girls‘ project“ took place which the girls urgently wished after our last visit there.
A bus brought them to us, they sat down all together in the courtyard in the circle together and with the help of a interpreter the girls told us their emotional problems provoked because of their severe fates and which often continue to hinder their lives .
Mostly trauma symptoms were described very clear or symptoms due to depressive episodes and liason disruptions. This was certainly one of the most difficult moments of our trip because 40 pairs of eyes regarded us hopefully, which demanded silently and could hardly express themselves in words.
Thanks to the translated questionnaires, we could work on the symptoms and thus support the carers psychoedukatively too.
In a circle we practiced together bilateral stimulation for self stabilisation and - as already ten of these children took part in the sandplay therapy lessons - ARAMSAMSAM.
Many of the children named the the difficulty to regulate feelings and often having uncontrolled overreactions, so that we staged spontaneously also with this group also a small play in which the neurophysiological processes could be clarified after trauma. In addition to the intensive circle we have talked about the beginning of the upcoming trauma groups for participants under and over the age of 12 years which shall begin as soon as possible.
For conclusion there was a beautiful ceremony where we as teachers and project collaborators were honored by reallocating very intricately knitted scarves (and now we know how manual labour in India is done, how we could see the day before yesterday). Besides there was the Indian National Anthem in Hindi which was sung full-throated at the end of the circle that is still not understood by children under the age of 17 because this language is taught only in junior college provide (if at all). Hindi has has nothing in common with Telugu. You can compare it with the assumption that we had to learn russian (linguists explained it to us in this way). Absolutely drenched in sweat we just had only one goal: to arrive one of the air-conditioned cafés in the megacity Guntur, in order to cool down at least a little. To take a shower? The water that is saved in a tank on the roof is as hot as the air and only little refreshing. Tomorrow we will say goodbye to Guntur and will drive to the Indian Ocean for a day of relaxing.
Today it was the day of our trip back from Guntur to Hyderabad. It took about seven hours for 360 kilometers because the conditions of the roads were very poor as it had rained among other things. After the last course we had a wonderful – although it was pretty wet one;) - stay at the sea which was a special experience for us in several respects. The water of the Indian Ocean was so warm and showed its high waves during our stay. The „crazy Germans“ were the only one who jumped into the water enjoying the high waves;). We were also the only one people at the beach because swimming in the sea means swimming in completeyl clothing for women in domestic hotel complexes. We made the acquaintance with big red crabbes and had a romantic dinner on the beach with twelve people. Our hosts took big care in doing a succesful thank-you for us reagarding our previous work!
The next few days are full now by reprocessing the data from the last course and preparations for the next course for that we can expect about 50 participants again. We want to create four therapy groups with a total number of 40 children which then can be evaluated already in November, if everything works.
In India everything „takes all its own time“, so that we have to pre-structure and push well in order that everything works well as efficiently as possible and that the children receive the help they need so urgently.
Due to a failure of the internet it can happen that our blog can not be quite uploaded regularly.
Since two days we undergo the traditional Indian Ganesha Festival that the Hindus celebrate fervently.
Ganesha is a God with the head of an elephant and is seen as the embodiment of wisdom, happiness and success.
The Hindus celebrate the Ganesha Festival for circa eleven days, within theseeleven days the figure of the deity in different size (mostly the figure is about two meters at least) is sank in a river or a lake, until there is played music, drumming and singing from early in the morning to late in the night. Around our accommodation there are several Ganesha Temples and all of them celebrate their own festival, so that we are confronted properly with Indian music. The Ganesha Festival is a special experience and is similar to our German carnival regarding the atmosphere.
By reason of the acute lack of sleep provoked by this party of 24 hours our nerves are on edge…;).
That’s why we are praying for the sinking of the elephants.
Our day started again – as it was Sunday - with a common worship together with the children. Due to the strong monsoon rain in the last few days Ulrike thought about the history of Noah’s Ark.
In the afternoon we went to the cinema together with all 45 children and watched a typical blockbuster romantic movie of Bollywood for three hours - the children liked it so much. During the break the children enjoyed popcorn and samosa. Although the little ones didn’t understand completely the plot of the movie, they watched the sreen curiously. Such an experience happens mostyl once a year, only rather then, if there are visitors and if there is a sponsor – in this case Ulkrike’s father who is 90 yers old and who financed this event.
Then the bus of the Child Guidance Center – usually used as a means of transport for the school kids - drove us through crowded streets of Hyderabad and a smog dome back to the „Happy Home“.
It was visible for us that the 45 children had „good experience“ and we also enjoyed it very much to allow the children a beautiful afternoon.
Below, our yellow school bus which just loaded us in front of the complex of the cinema.
A cinema hall which is realtiveyl still empty but soon get filled with people and seized for circa 600 spectators. There are to see „our“ children looking for a seat.
At the moment we are confronted with a lot of power breakdowns and web breakdowns.The positive aspect is that the almost 24 hours of heavy acoustic irradiation which has been starting since 25.08. is also interrupted of necessity now because of the Ganesha Festival (prayers from the can, drum music, parades with vehicles and people like at the Bavarian „Oktoberfest“ - but only more colourful and louder).
Yesterday we were on tour again, in order to visit another project - „The Betty Huber House“: it is a junior college with a residential accommodation for financially deprived and another „Happy Home“ only for girls.
Aside there is the building of the „Tobi School“- the name is dedicated to our fellow traveller Tobias Paeper- in which disabled children from rural areas are taught. In the morning the kids are picked up by in-house school buses and in the afternoon they are driven back home. The children have welcomed us – like the last time - by Indian tradition with floral wreathes, singing and dancing. After that we were allowed to see and visit the individual classes. Like in all other projects of the Child Guidance Center the main focus of attention is to give as many as possible socially and corporately disadvantaged children the best possible start for further life.
In India the group of the Dalits („untouchables“ who don’t belong to the caste system) is the most disadvantaged group within the society.
They are often excluded until today, disprized or at ist best ignored. Without support disabled Dalits have absolutely no opportunities for developing themselves here in India.
The situation in the projects is much more better than in governmental institutions, but not comparable with our conditions of supply and thus after each visit a sad feeling, thousands of ideas and wishes of optimizing keep back.
As a matter of course many children with disabilities can be operated here in Germany and therefore it is very hard for us to see how a child for example with a club foot has to manage his life, knowing that an operation - which is not affordable for a child here in India – would make his life easier!
In addition to our visit we managed it yesterday to screen 48 children who are living here in the „Happy Home“, in order to divide the children subsequently in sandplay groups or in lifeline groups. We have translated our usual questionnaires into Telugu, the questionnaires of the little children were filled by the carers who know the children well. However we sat together with the older children and young people to fill the questionnaires together with them.
All in all 80 per cent of the children are charged and 50 per cent of them meet the criteria for a severe depression and/or for a posttraumatic stress disorder.
Also the Indian children know suicidal thoughts and self injuring behavior, but it is - socially related - difficult to talk about it openly and to handle it carefull in an interview with carers since the adult tend very quickly to influence the children in the direction of „Happiness“. At this point two sandplay groups with the younger children and two lifeline groups with the older children can start now!
In our training courses - today we started with the fourth trauma helpers course – we also don’t get tired to create space for the painful experiences of the children, to enable them looking in the past within a protected scope, to overcome the past with appropriate techniques and then to open the view for a really much brighter future.
Dear visitors of our blog
With some delay there you get now the information about our last few days in India. In that part of Hyderabad in which we were living, the access for internet collapsed completely, so that we had no possibilities to communicate online.
Sometimes we also had no running water (it was not possible to take a shower and using a toilet without having a flush aroused old memories of the outhouse…) and power was available more or less. But during our stay here in India wed had learned now to work without having a data projector, so that there were also no problems regarding our course.
The last day of our eighth trauma helpers courses at large closed very well. Once again we could train other 50 teachers, college students and psychologists in the work of lifeline and could also present our song texts which we had invented for neurophysiology and stress regulation.
Indina people prefer to learn by means of creative media such as dance, theater and singing, so that we had to think intentensively about the course of action;)!
We are going to present the results in good quality soon on youtube!
The participants were very happy about the certificates we handed to them because our training which is very high valued in India means for the individual in his professional career a significant additional benefit by reason of the German certification.
In the evening we drove then relaxed to the center of Hyderabad because from now on the thousands of Ganeshas should be scuttled in the lake of the city in the context of a great ceremony. The Indians carried out their Ganeshas of gypsum on trucks, in the car or on scooters to the lake, adorned once again the deity with flowers, „fed“ it with goodies, ate among familiar faces at the roadside or at the lakeside, drummed and danced and then they threw - if the figures were smaller - the head of the elephant over the metal fence into the water or they let transported huge Ganeshas on the scale of two or three meters into the water by the crane.
At the lakeside you could see many cranes one by one because many Ganeshas had to be scuttled. This ritual took several days because each family, each block and each district has ist own statue for the ceremony.
If all Ganeshas are scuttled finally, a cleaning squad - so we have told – will come, in order to pull out the biggest part of the rubbish from however the lake is so much polluted by the constant contamination - Ganesha is not the only festival - that hardly any creature is in the lake and nobody wants to touch the water.
In many respects India is a country full of contrasts and sometimes it is necessary to seperate onself internal from these contradictions and rather marvel the moon or the flying foxes in the sky than giving thoughts to the bad pollution of the environment that is taking place day after day.
Today we had a busy day because further 53 more children and adolescents were screened. The questionnaires we had translated returned partly from Guntur - our second domicile here in India. They had to be corrected, once again revised and had to be evaluated at the end. Due to the bad infrastructure (sending via mobile phone hotspot, readout on the mobile phone et cetera),it took the whole day. Lakshmi, our female cook, supplied us with chai tea and – especially for the professor - with „herbal tea". Based on our work enthusiasm the Indians shook their heads in a resonably tolerable distance and it was not always understandable for them that we corrected so consequently and demanded so intensively for complete documentation.
In the face of a comprehensive internet failure we were forced to have a break until the Internet worked again!?!?!?
But we were not tired to explain the necessity of our actions and to motivate the participants and ourselves untiringly and we smirked on our part about the project of our Indian colleagues firstly to go on vacation after our stay;).
We understood very clear that the clock is ticking differently here in India and also we enjoyed sometimes the Indian „take your own time“ very much and decelerated our rhythm pleasantly.
Though when it was time or it was possible we were merciless boosters again for example by obtaining the screenings;-)
In the evening - the shops are open here in India until 22.00 pm -, we drove again to the city, in order to buy a second sandplay equipment because right after our visit two sandplay goups shall start immediately (one in Guntur, the other one in Hyderabad).
In the aircraft we could transport only one equipment and it doesn’t seem convertible realistically to us that the sandplay equipment makes a days’s journey from Hyderabad to Guntur and vive versa weekly. The first equipment was financed by the association „partnership one world“ of Mosbach, the second one by our association GEWISS e.V.
On our last day we visited once again all school classes of the Child Guidance Center in which we lived during our stay in Hyderabad. All of the „special children" showed us their teaching resources together with their teachers and waved to us after shaking hands „goodbye“. We distributed sweets and praised extensively the works that were presented.
In the afternoon the children of the „Happy Home“ arrived back at home and celebrated for us a farewell festival. They sang their songs and then we all ate together filled pastry.
At the end the professor played the guitar and several times we sang together Michael Jackson’s song „We are the world“.
Rajani had to translate the text into Telugu so that the children could understand what they sang with us.
They liked it very much and for us it was also very touching because these children are the future of their country („We are India - We are the future - We are the instruments of social change“) with better opportunities and possibilities than the previous generation - and there is still much to do in this country full of contrasts.
Accompanied by Rajani and Lusi – a boy from the „Happy Home“ - we loaded then the school bus with our luggage (after our visit she is definitely ready for going on vacation;)) and drove then to the airport.
At the elevator we waved for a last time before we were transported to the third floor where the departure lounge was and where we were deviated by a intensive procedure regarding the check-in
We all leave India with mixed feelings behind us:
He leaves his home country India wistfully, but he will already fly back again in November!
She will likely come back to her second home country India in about one and a half year, but she likes to come back to Germany too.
After having a very intensive cultural experience in India, he is glad to leave India again and is looking forward to the European food, chocolate, a warm shower and his dog. He got to know friends in India who he wants to see again. Although the permanent repeating Indian food will has a break now, he liked the Indian food anyhow. That’s why he brought a load of spicery, a dosa pan and interesting ideas for cooking in his luggage back to Germany. The love of adventure is unbraked!
He flies back at home very satisfied. He is especially impressed of the friendliness and the commitment of the Indian people, the life energy of the children and grateful for the experience that he could make in all sectors.
She flies back to Germany with a lot of thoughts and inner images about the fates of the Indian people and especially about the children who she got to know. She is overwhelmed of the contrasts of this country, the enormous poverty and wealth at the same time, the violence, the desire and the ambition for peace, the dreariness and the colorful life, the hunger and the abundance of food, the noise and the silence, the unclear swarming and the emptiness…and thankfully for the experiences, encounters and the trust you showed to us!
India, we think we will come again!
But now we are going to fly to China in order to present there our projects at the World Congress for Psychosomatic Medicine and we would appreciate invitations from other countries to offer our trauma helpers course also in their countries .
Stay tuned to our blog, we will keep you informed about our next activities and thank you very much for your interest in our project!